A teacher at Mount Baker Secondary School has been recognized with a national award for his years of innovation and excellence in teaching.
Last week, Paul Knipe received the news that he had been awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
“It’s just nice to be recognized and it’s very humbling and just makes me want to continue to do what I do,” Knipe said. “I wanted to be a teacher since I was 12 years old. To me it’s not a job — it’s a lifestyle.”
He received a letter from the Prime Minister himself last week.
This is Knipe’s 33rd year of teaching. He has taught drafting and design, woodwork and metalwork and worked with students with developmental disabilities.
“I’ve also been big on — whatever I’m teaching — of linking the school to the community and getting kids to understand the importance of getting involved in your community and giving back to the community, looking out for people that are in need in the community,” he said.
Knipe said that he was taught those traits from his own upbringing.
“The community is a big part of what education is all about. It’s linking those two together,” he said.
Knipe was nominated back in April by fellow teachers Grant Duchscherer and Darryl Taylor. The two worked on the nomination process for over a year, gathering letters of reference and anecdotes from the faculty and students.
“They made an announcement to our staff and myself that they had nominated me and I was humbled and appreciative,” Knipe said. “Then last week I got a letter from the prime minister saying congratulations, you’re one of the recipients of this award. They gave out 35 awards each year across Canada.”
Duchscherer said the award is quite an honour.
“It’s like the Nobel prize for teaching and innovation,” he said.
Evan Bueckert and Rod Osiowy were bestowed with the honours in past years.
“That makes Cranbrook, or at least Mount Baker, the only high school that’s won three of them. We’re pretty thrilled with that,” Duchscherer said.
Duchscherer was in his masters program taking a course on community leadership, with a bend towards educational leaders, from Dr. Carol Freehan when he got the idea to nominate Knipe.
As the course progressed, he began to think that the characteristic that were talked about in the course sounded exactly like someone he knew.
“I began to think of all the incredible things over the years that he’s done,” Duchscherer said. “And that was just the tip of the ice berg. Once I dug up some of the dirt over the years, I showed it to Even Bueckert. He looked at it and said this guy is a shoe-in for this award, and the Prime Minister agreed with us.”
He said they are all very happy with the results.
“He’s a very humble quiet guy,” he said. “Things just get done in the school. He volunteers for everything quietly. He won the award for his work with the adapted technology. What he has created is not only a model in Cranbrook and B.C. but now nationally. It’s a model around the country for what he does with student with disabilities and technology education.”
Knipe thanked his wife Cheryl and his two children Taylor and James, as well as the two people who nominated him, Duchscherer and Taylor for the nomination, and everyone else who supported him.